Yvette Cooper has rounded on Andy Burnham this evening, demanding that the Labour leadership contender oppose Jeremy Corbyn or stand aside. Burnham gave a speech this morning that was widely reported as him snuggling up to Corbyn, in which he praised his rival’s ‘energy’ and said ‘I want to capture that and would involve Jeremy in my team from the outset’. Cooper and Liz Kendall have both urged their supporters to use their second and third preferences on their ballot paper to block Corbyn by supporting any of the other three candidates, but Burnham has not joined them.
A spokesman for Cooper said that ‘if [Burnham] isn’t prepared to offer an alternative to Jeremy, he needs to step back and leave it to Yvette’.
But a source in the Burnham camp called this and Cooper’s team’s claim that their data shows she is the only candidate to beat Corbyn a ‘panicked, desperate stunt straight out of the Ed Balls playbook’. The source added that Burnham had produced a ‘more sophisticated response’ to the rise of Corbyn and described the way Cooper and Kendall were warning of ‘oblivion’ for Labour as ‘simplistic’.
Actually, all three candidates who aren’t called Jeremy Corbyn are panicked and desperate. Kendall can be less desperate as she can plod on honourably to the end and have another shot at the leadership at the next opportunity. But none of them predicted that they would spend most of this contest talking about the candidate they thought would be there to add a bit of colour and facial hair, rather than dominate everything.